FAQ (Online Improv Classes)

Got a question about our online classes? These are the questions we’re more often asked. If your question isn’t answered here, then just contact us directly, or if your question is not about online classes, you should check our general FAQ.

COVID-19

Are you running temporary online classes during COVID-19?

Yes, kind of, and more. Our online classes are a permanent and integral part of our regular training, and will continue after COVID-19. We are continually developing online improvisation techniques in our own programmes, as well integrating other online improv developments from around the world. Our online classes aren’t hastily converted workshops or temporary “sample some of the foundations of improv that work online” fill in classes, they’ll full strength improvisation classes which utilise all the unique capability of online training that face to face training does not.

What if I want to switch to face to face classes when COVID-19 is done?

At the end of a class, online students can switch to face to face for the next class and continue on, so long as they are located in Sydney or are able to get there for the training, and so long as we are running a face to face version of the class at that time. For example if a student completes our Improvisation 101 Online class (5 weeks), they may then join our Improvisation 101 Extension face to face class (4 weeks) without skipping a beat.

How come you’re able to run full strength online training when other schools haven’t been able to, or are offering shorter “something to keep students in our system” options?

Our principal literally wrote the book — Inside Improvisation — on improvisation. A lot of improvisation training is based on traditional exercises and rules, and a lot of that isn’t able to be directly transferred to an online class. Because we understand the underlying science and practice, we’re easily able to design improvisation training for other mediums, including online. We also happen to have expert technical and online training professionals on staff, including veterans of the early revolution in online video, videoblogging and podcasting.

Videoconferencing

I’ve been in a lot of Zoom meetings recently, and it seems like a pretty bad way to teach improv.

Our classes aren’t run like a meeting. They are quite active, including being up on your feet and often in other rooms at your physical location. In fact other aspects of online learning mean that we can do a lot of things that we can’t usually do in a face to face class. Most of our online classes also have a small offline component, where the student prepares for each class away from online.

Is the class interactive, or is it like an online lecture or webinar?

The class is fully interactive, and is not like a lecture or webinar. Learning improvisation online requires other people being in the class, and everyone being able to see and interact with each other the whole time. Our classes typically run in the evenings, and consistent feedback is that they’re the best Zoom meeting all week, and a great way to top off the day with fun, social bonding and learning all at the same time. Great praise indeed, considering the current health crisis and most people being sick of online videoconferencing.

How big are the classes?

Due to the content of each class, there are different minimum and maximum class sizes, depending on the curriculum. Our beginners Improvisation 101 classes have a maximum size of 10 students, and our other classes have similar size restrictions.

Curriculum

5 weeks seems a long time for an online introductory class.

It is not possible to teach improvisation online in only 4 weeks, no matter what anyone says. The time required to teach the theory and experience and embed the practical, takes at least 5 weeks at a minimum. Online training typically takes 25% longer than face to face training, and often longer for it to become muscle memory. We use 5 week online classes to deliver the same outcomes as our 4 week face to face introductory class, and we guarantee you’ll learn more with us than any other online improvisation training.

If online training takes 25% longer, what about your standard 8 week classes?

Our 8 week face to face classes take either 9 or 10 weeks online, depending on the curriculum.

If it’s the same class online as in a classroom, and there’s more weeks online, how come the price of an online class is cheaper than face to face?

One of the biggest expenses with running face to face classes is the room hire, or if you have your own training venue, then the ongoing building costs. Running classes online means we don’t have the expense of having a physical room, and we can pass those savings on to our students via cheaper classes.

How much do I miss by doing the online class instead of the face to face class?

The face to face and online curricula have the same learning outcomes. You only miss the practical experience of being in the same room as other students, and the muscle memory of placement on stage with other people. We provide a 2 week conversion class for those wanting to transition from online to face to face if they’ve never had face to face improvisation training. This is included for free if the transition is in the middle of a class and the current health crisis ends, and the student is located in Sydney or is able to get there for the class.

How can they be the same when I can’t be in the same room as other students?

Most improv schools begin with students getting up and doing games and scenes in order to learn various skills, which is difficult to do online from the outset — and isn’t actually ideal face to face either. Our classes have always had a strong focus on the theory behind improvisation, giving our students the solid foundation they need in order to do scenes either online or face to face. Improv is often taught through a fixed sequence of traditional exercises, so schools that do that often don’t know what that exercises are ultimately doing or how to transfer them to another medium.

Will online classes teach me to perform in face to face shows?

No. All online classes — not just ours — don’t give students the practical experience of stage picture and presence, and being in front of an audience which is physically located in the same room. We provide a short 2 week conversion class for those wanting to go from online to face to face performance, and this is included for free if the transition is in the middle of a class and the current health crisis ends, and the student is able to get to Sydney for the class.

Prerequisites

What do I need to take the class?

  • A computer with an Internet connection, video camera, external microphone and headphones. A headset with combined microphone and headphones such as a phone headset, is perfect. You can attend the class with the computer’s internal microphone and speakers, but the experience will be less than optimal. You can use a tablet, but you may not be able to see everyone in the class and may not be able to participate in every activity.
  • The ability to install the Zoom Client for Meetings software on the computer you wish to use.
  • A room where you make some noise alone with nobody else watching, where you can sit on a chair and stand up at a distance, and without any distractions, other people or pets. Our classes are a safe place to learn and explore, with only the students and the teacher.
  • The ability to speak and understand conversational English.
  • No alcohol or drugs.

Must I be located in Sydney?

No. You can be located anywhere on the planet. If at some point you wish to perform on an actual physical stage, and have never had face to face improvisation training, then we provide a 2 week conversion class. This is only delivered face to face, and is currently only in Sydney.

Must I speak English?

Yes. Our classes are taught in English, so you must be able to both speak and understand conversational English.

Must I wear clothes?

Yes. Dress as you would if you were going to a regular dance or pottery class. This is partly a light hearted question, but keep in mind that our classes will have you standing up and visible to everyone else in the class, so we do require you to be suitably dressed from head to toe, as if you were meeting face to face.

Miscellaneous

Can my friend watch from the side of the room?

No. Only students who have paid the class fee can watch or participate in the class. Classes are a private and safe space for students to learn and explore without external influence.

Can I record the class?

No. The class is an interactive live event that is a private and safe space for all participating students, and our terms and conditions clearly state that video, audio or still image recording in classes is not permitted. If any student is found to have recorded a class, they will be immediately removed from the class, and will have their remaining training cancelled without refund. Any recordings of classes found on social media or other public websites or databases, will be followed up immediately with legal action to the full extent of the law.

That sounds a bit harsh!

When beginners learn improvisation, they begin to be spontaneous with both the expertise they already have, as well as with the interactions and discussions of everyone else in the class. At this learning stage, many students wouldn’t want these activities to be accidentally — or intentionally — published on the Internet. So yes, it’s harsh, but it keeps our students safe and maximises their ability to learn. It’s also about respecting peoples’ privacy.

Thanks for considering us for your improvisation training. We can’t wait to see you in class!